In the pursuit for performance, making sure your drive isn’t fragmented is a regular task. The problem is that Windows XP doesn’t allow certain system files to be defragmented without commercial software. What about free solutions?
There’s a utility called PageDefrag from Sysinternals (Microsoft) that lets you do one single task, and it does it well. It runs as a boot-time process that defragments the system files before they are locked by XP.
Defragment Your System Files
When you open up the application, you’ll see a list of the system files and the number of fragments each file is in. Select the “Defragment at next boot” option, or you could even choose to defragment at every boot, although I wouldn’t necessarily recommend that.
When you reboot, you’ll be prompted by PageDefrag to hit a key if you don’t want to defragment now.
If you didn’t abort the defrag, you’ll now see the defragment in process. As you can see, mine didn’t need to be defragmented anyway…
If you selected the option to defragment on every boot but would like to remove it, you can open up the application and select “Don’t defragment (uninstall)”, and then click the OK button.
This should be an essential utility in any geek’s toolkit. Note that this isn’t a substitute for defragmenting your other files on a regular basis.